Even as the limitations and restrictions of COVID-19 impacted every aspect of the meetings industry, Visit Lauderdale used 2020 as a time to prepare for the industry’s safe and successful return to in-person meetings and face-to-face networking. The organization implemented safety protocols, trained staff, and developed new technologies — in order to be ready to welcome event attendees and visitors back to Greater Fort Lauderdale.
One of the first opportunities of the new year came as Visit Lauderdale offered a day of face-to-face learning as part of PCMA Convening Leaders. Taking place Jan. 14 at the Hyatt Centric Las Olas, the event provided industry education while celebrating the resiliency of the meetings industry.
“As a Florida meetings destination leader, we fully embrace our responsibility to support industry education and provide enhanced networking opportunities for all meetings industry professionals,” said Ed Simon, executive vice president of Visit Lauderdale. “We greatly value our partnership with PCMA and respect the organization for its efforts to safely get our industry back to the business of connecting people, ideas and opportunities,” he continued.
And safety has certainly been a top priority for Visit Lauderdale. More than 400 hospitality partners in Greater Fort Lauderdale have taken the Visit Lauderdale Safe + Clean Pledge to help keep visitors and residents safe and slow the spread of COVID-19. In addition to masking and cleaning protocols, the pledge requires the businesses to practice social distancing, train staff, offer hand sanitizer, and work toward providing contactless payment opportunities.
The safety trend continues at the Greater Fort Lauderdale/Broward County Convention Center. Management company ASM Global is incorporating VenueShield, a series of cleaning and safety protocols that make the facility safe, healthy, and welcoming to visitors and staff, all while adhering to local government guidelines.
For meeting organizers who want to host virtual meetings, Visit Lauderdale has created new ways they can take their meetings to the next level. Working hand-in-hand with locally based Everlast Productions, Visit Lauderdale has invested in developing new technologies. The CVB can tailor a package that’s right for each event, including options such as augmented reality, 3-D environments, robust video conferencing presentations, and customizable websites.
When it comes to safety and social distancing, it’s hard to beat the great outdoors of south Florida. From an evening beachside bash or sunset dinner cruise on a spacious yacht to a team-building exercise on paddleboards, there are plenty of opportunities to safely — and memorably — gather outside.
When visitors do come back, they’ll find more room in the Greater Fort Lauderdale area. During 2020, six hotels opened their doors for the first time, and 17 more are slated to do the same in 2021, adding more than 2,700 guest rooms total.
In addition to the hotel boom, a $1-billion expansion is taking place at the Greater Fort Lauderdale/Broward County Convention Center. Phase 1 of the project, including a new exhibition hall, opens October 2021. The entire project is expected to be completed in 2024.
“Greater Fort Lauderdale is experiencing this tremendous trajectory, which speaks volumes about the positive outlook for our destination,” said Stacy Ritter, president & CEO of Visit Lauderdale. “We have evolved into a cosmopolitan and authentically diverse and welcoming place for all visitors, and we’re thrilled for everyone to experience all of the offerings that make Greater Fort Lauderdale so spectacular.”
To kick off the planning process, call (954) 767-2459 or e-mail [email protected].